The All-Star left-hander won't even get the chance to decide whether to take a one-year deal worth $18.4 million, as the White Sox did not extend the qualifying offer by Sunday's deadline, sending Rodón to the open market.
Just because the White Sox didn't extend the qualifying offer, though, doesn't mean Rodón's time on the South Side is over. Just last December, the White Sox chose to non-tender the lefty and re-signed him at a lower cost later in the winter. With health concerns again dominating the conversation around Rodón, even at the tail end of a spectacular career year, the White Sox could envision bringing him back at less than the qualifying offer was worth.
That said, the team seemingly made its decision on how to fill out its 2022 rotation when it inked Lance Lynn to a contract extension during the summer. With Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel all under contract and Michael Kopech slated to move from the bullpen to the starting staff, the Lynn decision seemed to set the rotation for next season.
But Rodón was undeniably awesome when he took the mound in 2021, throwing a no-hitter in his second start and putting the White Sox on no-hit watch plenty of times after, dominating even the best competition with electric stuff. Thanks in part to working with first-year pitching coach Ethan Katz, Rodón finally lived up to the hype of his No. 3 overall draft position and set himself up for a big payday.
“I can certainly praise how fantastic he was for us over the bulk of the season and (say) that it would be great to figure out a way to bring him back in some capacity,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference Friday.
“Obviously this isn’t our first foray into free agency with Carlos. We had a similar situation … last offseason when we had an interest in bringing him back and were able to work it out then, as well. We’ll see how the market unfolds. He’s coming from a much better position, which we all benefited from over the course of the ’21 season.
“He met (his longstanding) potential, and now obviously he has the benefit of exploring his free-agent options.”
Teams, though, could be wary of handing out a long-term deal to the southpaw, who while putting his history of significant arm injuries behind him increased his workload to the point that he was bothered by persistent shoulder soreness during the second half of the season. It was enough to create lengthy gaps between starts down the stretch, and his status for the postseason was a mystery until mere days before he started in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, in which the White Sox were eliminated.
Those health questions could obviously affect Rodón's market. Throw in the fact that Rodón returned to the White Sox after being non-tendered last offseason in part because of his familiarity with the organization, and there could be a few things working in favor of him coming back to the South Side in 2022.
That said, such an outcome would involve further work on the part of Hahn's front office, with the aforementioned full house in the rotation at the moment. Options to make room for Rodón — or any other starting-pitching addition — include delaying Kopech's move to the starting staff or finding a way to move the final guaranteed year of Keuchel's contract after the veteran struggled in 2021.
Those are all questions that need answering as the offseason progresses. Sunday, though, we got one big answer in terms of how the White Sox will approach the rotation this winter: They'll be doing it without offering Rodón a one-year contract worth $18.4 million.